The line includes an authorized reinterpretation of the brand's Polo Pony logo for the first time.
The brand has teamed with Fortnite, the online gaming platform, on both a digital apparel and accessories collection and a physical apparel capsule. And for the first time in the company’s history, the Polo Pony logo has been redesigned to include Fortnite’s signature llama, which has replaced the horse in the artwork for the collection.
The digital collection will include two outfits and in-game cosmetics that will be available for purchase in the Fortnite Item Shop beginning Saturday. The physical apparel capsule collection will be available three days earlier, on Wednesday, exclusively on the Ralph Lauren website. An additional product drop will launch globally on Dec. 1 on the company’s website, apps, in select Ralph Lauren retail stores and specialty retailers including Bodega, Citadium, Highsnobiety, BSTN, LVL Gaming hub, Beams and CMG Central World.
“Ralph Lauren has always designed dreams and created new worlds, and today, our collaboration with Fortnite will deliver a groundbreaking experience to a new community of next-generation players and consumers,” said David Lauren, chief branding and innovation officer at Ralph Lauren. “Our partnership represents a completely fresh take on the Ralph Lauren brand — designing for the metaverse first — that is thoroughly focused on the future.”
Lauren said the partnership with Fortnite is intended to further the brand’s reach with younger consumers. “This game has become sort of a cultural touchstone for the next generation,” he said. “And if you want to talk to this generation, you’ve got to go where they are. But at the end of the day, it’s just about doing something that’s fun. It’s no different than showing all the color at the end of the runway show in Los Angeles. There’s just a joyousness about gaming. If you’re 20 years old, and you’re playing this game, this is where you express yourself. This is where your community is. This is where you have fun. So we want to be where people are emotionally connected.”
Allowing the Polo Pony logo to be redesigned is seen as part of the fun.
Lauren said that over the years there have been spoofs of the Polo Pony by the Simpsons and others, many of them cartoons. Several were included in the recently released Polo Shirt book as “an homage to the polo,” he said.
So with Fortnite, he said the brand’s llama logo is so popular and well known among its fans that Ralph Lauren felt it was another “code” that would connect with these young customers. “So we made up some polo shirts and other products. Again, it was about not taking ourselves so seriously and just having some fun.”
Both the physical and digital collections draw inspiration from the brand’s Stadium collection and Polo Sport line from the ’90s, reimagined for the metaverse. The first drop of the physical assortment, which comes out Wednesday, ranges from polo shirts and sweatpants to caps. The second drop, in December, will offer more Stadium-inspired merchandise.
The price range for the physical product runs from $59.50 to $188 while the digital product pricing ranges from 1,300 V-Bucks — the currency used on the Fortnite site — for the accessory bundle and 1,500 V-Bucks for the outfit and back bling bundle.
Some time early next year, the company will introduce a limited-edition boot that is a replica of the one created for the avatars, Lauren said. Only 300 boots will be made and the retail price has not yet been set.
To celebrate the launch Ralph Lauren will host a series of activations targeted to the gaming community. These will include the hosting on an in-person kick-off event streamed exclusively on Twitch on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. For three hours, viewers will be able to interact with top gamers, influencers and celebrity talent. It will be hosted by Kelly Link and SypherPK, and will feature interviews, interactive games and challenges with streamers and e-sports stars such as Sommerset, Alixxa and Ta1yo, as well as an exclusive musical performance by rapper Polo G.
“Helping to bring fashion and video games together with an iconic brand like Polo is a real honor,” said Ali Hassan, AKA SypherPK. “I’ve had a great time working with Ralph Lauren to bring their collection to the Fortnite universe.”
The polo shirt features the reimagined logo.
Then on Nov. 4, Ralph Lauren will become the first luxury brand to cohost a global player tournament in Fortnite. Called “The Polo Stadium Cup,” participants will have the opportunity to earn in-game rewards including first access to the Ralph Lauren outfits and accessories.
“Authentically expressing yourself is core to the player experience inside Fortnite,” said Adam Sussman, president at Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite. “Ralph Lauren’s iconic ‘Polo’ design history together with the unmistakable style of Fortnite have resulted in an inspired campaign and timeless looks that Fortnite players worldwide are sure to love.”
Lauren said that although he doesn’t play Fortnite often, he has tried it. “I don’t sit and play it, but I like living vicariously through my friends and family. I have an almost seven-year-old and he is obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog. Every morning, he gets his 10 minutes before school to jump on an iPad and play. The intensity, passion and excitement that he has is the same as everybody has for games like Fortnite. It’s incredible.”
And Ralph Lauren himself also embraced this new platform, his son said. “He’s always looked to the West or to college campuses or to the streets of New York or Paris for inspiration,” he said. “He’s always looked at real life and real living and interpreted that in his vision through his clothes. When he saw this game, he said, ‘I can do something with this. We can build a collection around this.’ It really was the first time that I saw Ralph Lauren taking inspiration from video games and the metaverse to build clothes.”
David Lauren also said since the pandemic, the company has embraced more digital design and that has impacted how clothes are being designed.
“We’re now using computers in a way to design our products in a way that is pretty groundbreaking,” he said. “Now you can go through 55 years of fabrications in about two seconds to build a ski jacket and you can change the silhouette in about six seconds. It’s amazing to be able to design this way. Between the advances that happened with technology and design, and the fact that the virtual reality and video games are happening, all these things came together to create this sort of magical spark.”
David Lauren said the company’s last collection for the Winter Olympics was actually “heavily inspired by video games and technology,” and this collection with Fortnite is actually an extension of that exploration. The company has also collaborated with Snapchat and Zepeto on virtual clothing in the past.
“We’re always looking for new ways to be inspired,” David Lauren said, adding that this has opened a “whole door” for the company.
“It’s called phygital,” he said. “It’s what you get when you merge the physical and the virtual. That’s what we’re doing, and that’s what we want to lead in. That’s what we want to explore.”
But, he concluded, at the end of the day, it’s just about having fun. “We’re living at a time when we all should have more joyfulness in our lives.”